By Debra LeClair Psy.D.
Setting goals and working towards them is very ingrained in our culture—however if you find that the thought of setting a new years resolution just isn’t inspiring much less motivating you, it may be a good time to consider an alternative or two.
Sometimes its not so much about bringing about a change, which tends to be an inherent part of new years’ resolutions, but to simply place focus on what is already feeling right and working well in your life. In a word, the focus is on gratitude. When we spend time on being appreciative of what we have, there is a natural shift to feel less in need of what isn’t there because we are filled up by what is already present.
To take this route in 2011, simply create a time in your day to think about and/or write down a list of the situations, people and things for which you have gratitude in that moment. Some people think about it during a commute to or from work, others may journal on it before going to sleep.
Instead of having specific goals ( e.g. lose 50 pounds, no more yelling at the kids, etc.) try the idea of a theme. One theme could be healthy living or another could be compassion. The idea is to allow the theme to strengthen as time passes. For instance, if you have tried to lose weight for years and by Jan 10th have given up, a healthy living theme may feel easier to implement. Instead of going on “a diet’ where you have to avoid a list of foods, a themed approach would be more about having fun with your choices, where the goal is about keeping with the theme.
To build a healthy living theme, you may opt to eat more fruits and vegetables and move your body more than you have in the past. The key here is to remember the theme throughout the day. For example, when you could take the elevator or the stairs, you connect to your theme and choose to take the stairs. Maybe you still enjoy your chocolate latte but in the theme of healthy living you choose to have a soup and salad instead of the burger and fries for lunch. It’s a subtle but powerful shift that some personalities find more appealing and thus easier to integrate into daily life, especially for the long run.